Practical Systems for Personal Thermal Comfort
Rabbani Esfahani, Ali Mohammad
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Conventional centralized HVAC systems cannot provide office workers with personalized thermal comfort because workers in a single zone share a common air handling unit and thus a single air temperature. Moreover, they heat or cool an entire zone even if a single worker is present, which can waste energy. Both drawbacks are addressed by Personal Environmental Control (PEC) systems that modify the thermal envelope around a worker’s body to provide personalized comfort. However, most PEC systems are both expensive and difficult to deploy, making them unsuitable for large-scale deployment. In contrast, we present two novel PEC systems: SPOTlight and its successor OpenTherm. These systems are carefully designed for practical, rapid, and scalable deployment. Intuitive web-based interfaces for user controls allow OpenTherm to be installed in only about 15 minutes, including user training. It is also low-cost (as low as US$80, in volume) because it uses the fewest possible sensors and a lightweight compute engine that can optionally be located in the cloud. In this thesis, we present the detailed design of SPOTlight and OpenTherm systems, and results from a cumulative 81 months of OpenTherm’s operation in 15 offices. In our objective evaluation, we find that OpenTherm improved user comfort by ∼67%. This is in comparison to when only the central HVAC system with no knowledge of occupancy and inability to control offices individually is used.
Cite this work
Ali Mohammad Rabbani Esfahani (2016). Practical Systems for Personal Thermal Comfort. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/10373